Joined: Mar. 2008
||Posted: Jan. 23 2010, 19:29
|Quote (Ugo @ Jan. 23 2010, 18:12)|
|@ nightspore: I was going to quote various examples from the Earth Moving album in my post above, as various songs on that record create that kind of lyrics vs. music contrast - "Hostage" is obviously one of those... maybe the only song whose lyrics match the music is "Far Country", but not entirely: if I'd had the lyrics only (with no music), I think I'd have made it even slower and more airy, more NewAge-ish than Mike O.|
A pop song is always a combination of lyrics and music, but of course the importance that each of those two elements may have and the balance between them depends on who writes the song. Bob Dylan is one of many people who have lyrics which are always (or almost always) more important than the music. But here we're not talking about Bob Dylan, who is a great lyricist and a great songwriter (although not a great singer, IMHO). Here we're talking about Mike Oldfield, who is a great composer, but he never was, he isn't and I think he will never be a great songwriter. And as a great musician, I think it's pretty obvious that he chooses the music, rather than the lyrics, as the primary medium to express the emotions he wants to express in a song. I don't think that he's very much interested in the fact that the meaning of the lyrics, or the emotion(s) expressed in them, isn't (aren't) matched by the music: as long as the lyrics sound good (and, more importantly, sound good to him! ), they're OK. In this respect, he's exactly like Brian Eno. He and Mike O. are radically different in many, many other aspects, but I think their attitude toward lyrics is exactly the same. I also think that the three main questions, in order of importance, that Mike O. may ask himself when writing lyrics are more or less like this: 1) Do the lyrics make sense?; 2) Do they express the emotion(s) and the feeling(s) I want them to express?; 3) Do they sound good when coupled with the music? [I don't think he ever asked himself something like "Do(es) the feeling(s) in the lyrics match the feeling(s) in the music?".] If the answer is "Yes" to all three, then the lyrics are OK. But if it's "No" to just one of those questions, especially to the third, he's very likely to sweat cold blood over a lyric. And he probably did, on songs like "Five Miles Out" and "Moonlight Shadow".
Hi Ugo, much to talk about here... For simplicity I'll give my thoughts paragraph by paragraph...
I think you're right about "Far Country"'s being the only song on Earth Moving where there's a match between words and music. I think "Holy" comes close: the music is rather slow and heavy, rather in keeping with the "weighty" connotations of holiness. "Runaway Son" is the interesting one: it's all about repentance, but it's racy exuberance suggests that the guy is still enjoying his debauched lifestyle! Given the humour in the song, perhaps you could call this psychological irony, making it (in my opinion) Mike's best song (along with "Heaven's Open").
I agree with you about Dylan. To me his melodies are almost childishly simple, making his lyrics seem downright incongruous. And I find his singing almost embarrassing. As for Mike, I think he probably could be a very good songwriter, if he put the effort in. This invites the question: what makes a good song? I'd suggest a few things:
1) the music must match the lyrics (unless irony is intended)
2) the music's beats or stresses shouldn't fall on unimportant words (like "and"), or distort the normal pronunciation of words
3) the lyrics should contain fresh imagery - images that makes us look at the world from a new perspective
4) there should be no mixed metaphors. Mike is particularly susceptible to this (eg "two burning eyes are tearing you apart").
This is a rudimentary list; there are other aspects, of course.